Save the historic steamboat Delta Queen

Until end of October 2008 the Str. DELTA QUEEN was operating under a special Congressional Exemption from the 1966 Safety of Life at Sea Law (Public Law 89-777). This law forbids any vessel, foreign or domestic, from operating from a United States port carrying over 50 overnight passengers if it is constructed primarily of wood.

Due to the poor language of this bill the Delta Queen would be unable to be an overnight passenger ship regardless of the fact she had never had a fire, nor a fatality other than medical, and she was never more than a few hundred yards from shore.

This is because though the Delta Queen has two complete all steel hulls under her, the superstructure of the boat was made of wood. Steel suport structures had been added over the time, invisibly behind the wooden surface, but still wood is the primary material used for the superstructure. That's what make sher historically valuable and unique.

Fighting for an exemption for the Delta Queen

In 2002 the DQ was sold along with the Mississippi Queen and the American Queen as a result of the financial difficulties in the aftermaths of hurricane Katrina. Because of the ownership changing, and the economy, little if anything was done to insure the exemption was in place. In 2006 the Delta Queen was sold again, to Ambassadors International who formed a new cruise line, the Majestic America Line. One of the changes introduces was to push out the Unions from all their boats. This rift with the Seafarer’s International Union and the owners, amongst other political reasons, caused the exemption to become politicized with Congressman Oberstar from Minnesota (chairman of the Transportation Committee of the House) leading the way to keep the Delta Queen from getting her exemption.

With no exemption, the current owners Ambassadors International, have leased the Delta Queen to a Chattanooga, Tennessee, business group to operate her as a hotel. Allegedly she is to be maintained in operational condition should the owners find a legitimate buyer. The opening of the hotel is being planned for May or June 2009.

How you can help saving the Delta Queen

There is still hope, though. Several individuals and groups are working hard to find a way to save the Delta Queen. To learn how you can support these efforts to save the Delta Queen, check the Save the Delta Queen discussion forum at and the Save the Delta Queen website for details.

If these efforts are being successful, the Delta Queen’s whistle will again reverberate in the valleys and ports of our river system announcing her arrival and departure.

At you'll also find more information about the Delta Queen itself and the Delta Queen's history.

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